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Archives for : July2017

Modi Sarkar forms a panel For Research On Benefits Of Cow, Includes RSS, VHP Members

 19-Member Panel

Govt Forms 19-Member Panel For Research On Benefits Of Cow, Includes RSS, VHP Members

The government has set up a 19- member panel, including three members linked to the RSS and VHP, to carry out what it says will be scientifically validated research on cow-derivatives including its urine, and their benefits, according to an inter-departmental circular and members of the panel.

Headed by Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan, the committee will select projects that can help scientifically validate the benefits of panchgavya – the concoction of cow dung, cow urine, milk, curd and ghee – in various spheres such as nutrition, health and agriculture, says the circular accessed by PTI.

Named the National Steering Committee, the panel includes secretaries of the departments of Science and Technology, Biotechnology, Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, and scientists from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Delhi. It also has three members of Vigyan Bharti and ‘Go- Vigyan Anusandhan Kendra’, outfits affiliated to RSS and VHP.

The government circular says former CSIR Director R A Mashelkar, known for vigorously campaigning against US patents on turmeric and basmati rice, is also a member of the panel. The others include IIT-Delhi director Prof. V Ramgopal Rao and Prof. V K Vijay of IIT’s Centre for Rural Development and Technology.

The development comes at a time when the cow has become an emotive issue in the country with increased incidents of so-called “gau-rakshaks” lynching cattle traders and others suspected of smuggling cows. The vigilantes’ ostensible defence is that they are protecting a sacred symbol of Hinduism. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has condemned such violence, saying “killing human beings in the name of gau bhakti is unacceptable”.

The government has given the project the acronym SVAROP, which stands for Scientific Validation and Research on Panchagavya, and says it is a “national programme” that’s being conducted by the Department of Science and Technology, Department of Biotechnology, and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) of the Ministry of Science and Technology in collaboration with IIT-Delhi.

The document also says “this multi-disciplinary programme” will involve participation of other related ministries, government departments, academic institutions, research laboratories, voluntary organisations and others “to carry out research and development and also build capacities, even at grassroots level, and cover five thematic areas including scientific validation of uniqueness of indigenous cows”.

It will cover “scientific validation of ‘Panchagavya’ for medicines and health, scientific validation of ‘Panchagavya’ and its products for agriculture applications, scientific validation of ‘Panchagavya’ for food and nutrition and scientific validation of Panchagavya based utility product,” the circular says.

It says the panel, which will have a tenure of three years, will function as an apex body for guiding SVAROP.

Vijay Bhatkar, the president of Delhi-based Vigyan Bharti, an RSS-affiliated science body, is the co-chairman of the committee. Known as the architect of the Param series of supercomputers, Bhatkar is also the Chancellor of the Nalanda University in Rajgir, Bihar.

Bhatkar confirmed to PTI the creation of the panel, and said it is tasked with selecting projects that scientifically validate research on indigenous cow and also the panchagayva.

The other two RSS-VHP-linked members of the panel are A Jayakumar, secretary general of Vigyan Bharti, and Sunil Mansinghka of the Nagpur-based Go Vigyan Anusandhan Kendra.

Jaykumar, an engineer by training, who also confirmed the circular, told PTI his focus has been on promoting traditional sciences such as ayurveda, vastu shastra as also research on cow. Vigyan Bharti has been organising the India International Science Festival for the past two years now. The festivals were partly funded by the government.

Mansinghka, who says he has a diploma in textile engineering from the VJTI college in Mumbai, told PTI he has been focusing on research on indigenous cows. Mansinghka also said although his organisation is affiliated to the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), it is autonomous in nature and has been involved in research on indigenous cows. His organisation’s website says: “We believe cow is the foundation of our civilisation”.

Mansinghka also claims that his organisation has six patents related to research on cows and has collaborated with CSIR in the past.

Justifying the appointment of Mansinghka on the panel, Bhatkar contended that his organisation has been working in this field for the past few years and has collaborated with CSIR to get patents on cow urine. He also asserted that Jayakumar has done a lot of work on traditional sciences.

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Karnataka to oppose commerical cultivation of GM mustard


Siddaramaiah to write to Prime Minister on its stand

Karnataka, which was indifferent to the Centre’s move to clear Genetically Modified (GM) mustard for commercial cultivation, is set to oppose the decision and will make its position clear to the Prime Minister.

This was assured by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to a group of anti-GM activists and organic farmers, who apprised him of the “adverse impact” of allowing commercial cultivation of GM mustard.

Mr. Siddaramaiah told the delegation that like other State governments that were proactively intervening in the matter, he too would write to the Prime Minister asking him to reject GM mustard cultivation. Anti-GM activists were perturbed in the past that the State was relatively mute to the Centre’s move. This was attributed to the fact that mustard was not a major crop in Karnataka. The delegation was led by activists Mallesh, Maj. Gen Sudhir Vombatkere (retd) of National Alliance of People’s Movement, eco-educationist Tanuja, Krishna Prasad of Sahaja Samruddha, and Pushpavathi Amarnath, former Mysuru Zilla Panchayat president.

Mr. Siddaramaiah was informed that Bihar, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, and Delhi governments had already written to the Centre opposing the move, while mustard-growing States, including BJP-ruled Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, had also spelt out their stance against commercialisation of GM mustard.

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PUCL demands withdrawal of FIR against AIB ; Police and Politicians need Humor appreciation training

Condemn the criminal complaint against AIB and its founders!

Indian Police and Politicians Need Humour Appreciation Training!!

Image result for AIB

The PUCL condemns the action of Mumbai Police for registering on 16th July, 2017 a criminal case of defamation and obscenity against the comedy group, `All India Bakchod’ (AIB) for allegedly caricaturing the PM, Narendra Modi. According to the police AIB had on Thursday, 15th July, tweeted a picture of a Modi look-alike standing in a railway station, peering into his phone and a special effects app which allows users to add a dog]s nose, ears and tongue over their face while taking a selfie or other photographs. The tweet carried the hashtag “#wanderlust” apparently referring to the frequent foreign trips of the PM.

The Mumbai police registered the FIR, reportedly based on the complaint of a Twitter user on charges of `defamation’ under section 500 of the IPC and “publishing / transmitting obscene material in electronic form under section 67 of the Information Technology Act.

The alacrity of the Cyber Cell of the Mumbai Police to so quickly register a FIR against AIB is to put it mildly, bizarre, unintelligible and senseless. It escapes common sense and is baffling how the twitter picture of a Modi-look alike fully clothed, standing in a railway station, can amount to being “lascivious or appeals to the prurient interests of or tends to deprave and corrupt persons”, which are all ingredients to establish an offence under section 67 of the IT Act. It is also inconceivable that the Mumbai police do not know that an offence of defamation under section 500 IPC cannot be registered by the police but requires a private criminal complaint to be filed before the Magistrate’s court.


So how do we explain what appears to be a clear and gross abuse of law by the police against the comedy group? Is it merely a bona fide mistake in understanding the law? Or is there a more sinister purpose behind the police’s action?


The present action of the Cyber cell of the Mumbai police will have to be seen in the backdrop of recent history of police action against creative  artistes lampooning ruling party leaders in different states. In Maharashtra itself the police quickly registered cases against cartoonists like Aseem Trivedi and against 2 young girls for FB posts at funeral of Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray. In West Bengal CM Mamta Banerjee got a Jadavpur University professor arrested for comments about the government’s policies.  In all these cases, the attempt of the police and their political masters was to stifle and silence any form of criticism of their rule and to crush any form of dissent.


The inability and intolerance of the ruling political class to appreciate political satire and humour is accompanied with a savage venality to abuse criminal law by arresting and prosecuting creative artistes, writers, cartoonists and others.


Unfortunately, the police, who have a professional duty to abide by the law and the Constitution, fail in their duty. The police is expected not to blindly implement whatever is asked of them but to advice their political masters on what is and what is not permitted in the law. Thus by consciously and willfully abusing the law by launching questionable prosecutions the police not only turn accomplices to the abuse of criminal law but end up silencing and crushing creative criticism, generation of a critical discourse about social and political events and political dissent.

This is not the first time the AIB has been targeted with criminal cases; previously when they lampooned Bollywood celebrities they were criminally prosecuted and also threatened with violence. If a well known group such as AIB can be targeted so blatantly by the Police agencies, then the fate of ordinary citizens can be well imagined when they exercise their freedom of expression.

It will not be out of place to point out that India has a long tradition of cartoonist lampooning political leaders. Morarji Desai as PM was depicted as a rooster, Rajaji as a cobra, SP Mukherjee as a got and Sheikh Abdullah as a lion.

PUCL decries the actions of the Police against those who venture to hold or express opposing opinions, including through use of humour.  The PUCL also believes that such misuse of the powers under CrPC given to the Police puts serious questions regarding credibility and impartiality of the Police agencies, and is not in the long term interest of the nation. The actions of the Maharashtra Police are intended to have a “chilling effect” on Indian citizens constitutionally ordained right to free speech and expression.

The PUCL calls upon all citizens to continuously remain vigilant and oppose all anti-democratic and anti-human rights actions and decisions of the Government (both Central and State) so that our precious fundamental rights and freedoms are not crushed, weakened and denied.


Ironically the Mumbai police seem not to have noticed the PM’s twitter of 14th January, 2017 saying “I think we need more satire and humour. Humour brings happiness in our lives. Humour is the best healer” and a further tweet in March, 2017 saying “We surely need more humour in public life”!


World wide the trend is towards greater transparency and a open society with humour used as a key tool to raise political debate. Ironically, in India we seem to be regressing, with more and greater political intolerance to free speech and humour and becoming more repressive than it was during the colonial regime!

Very clearly, the police in India need to have `humour sensitivity training’!


PUCL Demands:

  1. The FIR against AIB must be withdrawn immediately and due disciplinary enquiry must be conducted against police officers involved in abuse of the law by registration of FIR No. 50/2017 Cyber Police Station, Mumbai.
  2. Criminal action must be initiated against the de facto complainant under Section 182 and 211 IPC for filing the false complaints against AIB.
  3.     1. The Parliament and the Law Commission of India through their appropriate mechanisms must look into the issue of misuse of Section 499/500 IPC (Criminal Defamation) and Sections of the IT Act such as Section 67, and appropriately modify/amend/repeal them.

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Gems from Kerala swami – Cow horns absorb radioactivity, dung has plutonium

Swami Udit Chaithanya has made tall claims about the cow to highlight its ‘scientific’ importance.


The cow is a contentious animal in India right now. And with its welfare and protection having the sanction of the central government, there are many who have taken to highlighting the animal’s “scientific” importance.

The latest to join the bandwagon is Swami Udit Chaithanya, the founder of  Bhagavatham village, a spiritual retreat in Kerala. In a video which is being widely shared on social media, the swami talks about the importance of the cow.

Here are some of the points he makes about the cow:

1. The cow’s horns can absorb radioactivity

2. The horns can control sound waves and remove harmful magnetic waves from the atmosphere (he recommends a radio experiment to prove this with appropriate sound effects).

3. Cow dung contains plutonium. The swami says that the government is not valuing cow dung at all and can actually use the plutonium in atomic power plants.

4. “I prepared cow urine in my ashram, had it, and got rid of my asthma without any Allopathic medicine.”

Chaithanya doesn’t stop here, but goes on to cite the significance of snakes, dogs, and hens, all of which are worshiped at some place or the other in India. The reason? Hindus knew about the benefits that these creatures have for the environment – harmful viruses and pathogens in the air can be killed by the air the snake exhales, he said.

You can watch the video here.

Swami Udit Chaithanya is well known for his sermons about the Bhagavad Gita and other religious texts. Many of his videos are available on YouTube and he has also appeared on many TV channels.

It is unclear when the video first came out or who the interviewer is. The YouTube description of the video claims that the swami was fooled by a parody page called Sanjeevani, and was tricked into saying these things.

However, when TNM contacted Sanjeevani over Facebook, the admin alleged that Swami Udit had voluntarily copied the content from a video Sanjeevani had uploaded in May, not knowing that it was a parody and that the information was false.

Recently, Justice Mahesh Chandra Sharma, a judge at Rajasthan High Court, was at the receiving end of ridicule when he listed out 11 benefits of the cow.

One of the things he said was that the cow has a 180 foot long large intestine. He further added that because of this “fact”, cow’s milk has Kerotin which helps produce vitamin A in the human body. He also said that the mooing of the cow kills air-borne pathogens and that drinking cow urine will purify one of sins from the previous life.

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14 years in jail if you kill cow, 2 if you kill people: Judge in BMW case

The judge said present-day laws provide more stringent punishment to perpetrators of cattle-related crimes than errant drivers who take human lives.

Abhinav Rajput
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Utsav Bhasin, who was driving his BMW car, had hit two men — Anuj Chauhan and Mrigank Shrivastava — near Moolchand flyover in south Delhi in 2008.
Utsav Bhasin, who was driving his BMW car, had hit two men — Anuj Chauhan and Mrigank Shrivastava — near Moolchand flyover in south Delhi in 2008.(HT File Photo)

When a Delhi judge sentenced the son of a Haryana-based industrialist to two years’ imprisonment on Saturday for mowing down a motorcyclist with his luxury car in 2008, he couldn’t help but observe how present-day laws provide more stringent punishment to perpetrators of cattle-related crimes than errant drivers who take human lives.

“The sentence for killing cow is five, seven or 14 years in different states, but the sentence for causing the death of a human being through rash or negligent driving is only two years,” additional sessions judge Sanjeev Kumar said.

The court held the accused, 30-year-old Utsav Bhasin, guiltyof rash driving, voluntarily causing hurt on provocation and causing death by negligence. It also announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh for the family of the deceased and Rs 2 lakh for the injured.

On the night of September 11, 2008, Bhasin – then a BBA student – had crushed Anuj Chauhan and his friend, Mrigank Srivastava, under his BMW car at Moolchand in South Delhi. While Chauhan died in a city hospital, Srivastava survived the accident. Bhasin was arrested from ISBT Kashmere Gate while he was fleeing to Chandigarh.

Though the court had passed the verdict in May, the quantum of punishment was pronounced only on Saturday. It also granted statutory bail to Bhasin, enabling him to file an appeal in the high court. The bail bond was fixed at Rs 50,000 with surety of a similar amount.

Bhasin was earlier cleared of culpable homicide, which provides for a maximum jail term of up to 10 years.

The court said a copy of the judgment must be sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, so he can consider steps to enhance the punishment prescribed for such offences under section 304-A of the Indian Penal Code. The judge also quoted a song from the movie Jindagi aur Toofan – which goes ‘Aadmi chahe toh taqdeer badal sakte hai, poori duniya ki woh tasveer badal sakte hai, aadmi soch toh le uska irada kya hai (Humankind can change its fate if it wants to, can change the entire picture of the world if it wants to, as long as there is a strong resolve to do so)’ – to buttress his point.

The court noted that India has a “disreputable record of road accidents”, with a total of 4.64 lakh road accidents being reported in 2015 alone.

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Looking for Hope #NotInMyName protests

Earlier this month, I walked down Gokhale Road in central Mumbai with a few thousand people. Behind me a woman in jeans and sunglasses raised a placard that said, “Don’t Make this Lynchistan.” Ahead, a troupe of saree-clad women chanted, “Nafrat ke khilaaf, insaniyat ki awaaz” (Against hatred, we cry out for humanity). Drums resounded. Someone raised a slogan against the government’s muteness in the face of increasing violence against ordinary people. Others joined in. Then I heard a group recite and repeat a phrase I had often heard while growing up in the 1980s, “Hindu–Muslim–Sikh–Eesaee, hum sab bhai–bhai (Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, we are all brothers), and I was a puddle of emotion.

At one time, I would have dismissed such overly simplistic platitudes of nationalistic brotherhood, which also annoyingly excludes the sisterhood and many others. But it speaks of the changed times we live in that the mere public assertion of “Hindu–Muslim” in the heart of Dadar moved me tremendously. It also got me into a panic. This was a hard-core Shiv Sena area: the political party’s fortress-like headquarters are around the corner. They have never concealed their hatred of minorities, especially “non-model” ones like mine. Could we really say such things aloud here? Or anywhere else, for that matter? After all, my city, state and nation at this point are governed by a right-wing political party whose very ideology and agenda is the propagation of Hindutva, and that stand openly opposed to religious minorities, particularly Muslims. It is a reality that colours my everyday world and I cannot afford to forget it.

But on this Monday evening, marching from Veer Kotwal Udyan in Dadar (West) to Chaitya Bhoomi, Babasaheb Ambedkar’s memorial by the sea, lulled by the genuine amity I witnessed amidst a miscellaneous horde that included workers, students, trade unionists, lawyers, film-makers, writers, poets, activists and others, I felt I could perhaps overlook this reality for a while.

Collectively, we were protesting against the spate of lynchings and killings of Muslims and Dalits over the past few months by aggressive vigilante mobs ostensibly protecting the cow, and the silent witnessing of these crimes by many others, including the state. Already in the first six months of 2017, 20 such attacks have been reported, according to IndiaSpend, a data journalism site. The horrific stabbing to death of 15-year-old Junaid Khan of Ballabhgarh, Haryana, on a train returning home from Delhi on the eve of Eid still sits heavy in our hearts and minds.

This was the second demonstration against these murders that Mumbai witnessed in a week. A few days earlier, a few hundred of us with banners declaring “Not In My Name” stood in the rain on Carter Road in Bandra (West), a cosmopolitan locality, joining in solidarity 10 other Indian cities holding similar events on the same day. For the most part, it was a quieter protest, where people’s handmade placards with words such as #NotInMyName Fascism, Cowlitics, Casteism, Communalism; Resist the politics of Hate; and Bring Back the Love communicated what they felt.

“Why are you here?,” I asked a Hindu film-maker at one of the demonstrations. “Why wouldn’t I be here? I am angry and outraged that these killings are happening and that too in the name of my religion,” he said. “I also feel quite helpless. We clearly need more tangible action but first we need to speak out together.”

“Why are you here?,” I asked an older Muslim woman professional at the protests. “For this,” she said spreading her arms wide. “To witness this moment, where so many support us. Even if this is a token gesture, I appreciate it tremendously. After all, people came out of their houses to protest for us and with us.”

In early July, as more local citizens’ protests were organised in places such as Nizamuddin Basti and Mewat in North India, and in localities such as Kurla, Jogeshwari and Thane in and around Mumbai, I heard many other Muslims who attended the protests express similar positive sentiments, or heard about them.

After the demonstration on Carter Road, a young Muslim friend wrote on Facebook, “Every time there is a terror attack, I and other non-practising Muslims are forced to participate in rallies condemning the violence, because there would be consequences for the Muslim community if we didn’t. Today non-Muslims showed up to protest lynchings by Hindus with whom they share no affiliation or political ideology, even though there would be no personal consequences if they didn’t protest. They were there because they are as horrified by the violence unleashed on minorities. I have come back feeling happy and hopeful.”

We have waited for this moment, this glimmer of hope.

There was a time when hope was not such an elusive entity for the Indian Muslim. I do not claim to speak for all of the 14% as indeed I cannot—partly because I am personally more privileged by my class, education, profession, and urban location and partly because Indian Muslims themselves are a huge heterogenous category divided by sect, geography, language, class, caste, and livelihood. Still, despite their diversity, what all Muslims in India share is their minority status and, increasingly, their experience of isolation and marginalisation from the state.

Turning Point

The alienation did not start with the BJP coming to power at the centre in 2014; it started much earlier. For me, the Bombay riots of 1992–93, following the demolition of the Babri Masjid, were a turning point. The island city was my birthplace and in its lap, I grew to adulthood comforted in the belief that there was no need to shout slogans of “Hindu–Muslim bhai–bhai” because every day we lived that bhaichara, or brotherhood. When they brought down the dome of the crumbling mosque, I was shocked that this was allowed to happen in secular India, but I did not feel hurt. That came later, during the riots, when my house was marked with a chalk piece and we were forced to flee our apartment block, one bag in hand. Prejudice showed up in apparently innocuous things like the time I wore a green salwar suit and got tagged as “showing your Muslimness today.” Or in more major ways, when a job I had almost clinched slipped away because “unka naam achaa nahi hai” (her name is a problem).

I remember after a bomb attack, which had stunned me, being told by a work colleague, “All you *** should go back to Pakistan.” I tried explaining—thinking the comment came from a place of ignorance, not prejudice—that we had never lived in any part of Pakistan and my paternal and maternal grandparents chose to stay in India during Partition because they trusted its Constitution and its makers. Also because this was the only home they had known.

In the 25 years since the Bombay riots and 15 years since the Gujarat riots, while almost all of my close friends have remained close and in fact become protective, I have been amazed at the insensitive things that several other people, including acquaintances, old classmates and neighbours, can say to your face, in WhatsApp groups and on social media. Most of these are attempts to “other” you, treat you as the outsider to Indian society. Since in many ways, such as education, dress and accent, I am not the normative Muslim whom they have conjured in their minds, I commonly get told, “You don’t look Muslim” and “Oh, I don’t mean Muslims like you,” leaving the sentence dangling dangerously.

Other Muslim friends have similar stories to tell. When I interview Muslims both in formal and informal settlements, I see several examples of how religious dogma along with anti-Muslim prejudice pushes them towards conservatism and insularity, all of which impacts their decisions about housing, education, jobs, healthcare and women’s mobility. When they are denied housing in certain neighbourhoods because “we don’t welcome non-vegetarians here,” their children grow up and go to school in community-dominated ghettos with little chance to make friends from other backgrounds. For instance, Shabana, a bright young woman in Mankhurd, had to let go of a chance to attend a better college because her family was apprehensive about it being located in a largely non-Muslim neighbourhood that did not view Muslims favourably.

In the past three years of the Bharatiya Janata Party ruling at the centre and in several states, and the growing influence of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, these fissures between communities have only deepened. Muslims have been demonised to the extent that bigotry against them has been normalised. Worse still, violence against them is now acceptable and beef is only one of the many excuses, as seen in the Mohsin Shaikh murder case. This Pune-based IT professional was murdered less than a month after Narendra Modi took over as Prime Minister after violence erupted over an objectionable social media post. The post had nothing to do with Shaikh except that he looked Muslim and was at the site of the violence. In January this year, the Bombay High Court, in a curiously worded judgment, granted bail to three accused, observing that they had no “personal enmity” against Shaikh; only “in the name of religion they were provoked and have committed the murder,” as if that made it a lesser crime.

This is not the India I recognise. There was a time people came home to eat biryani and korma and hang out with you not because you were a pitiable Mussulman but because you were a fun person. At the least, they tolerated your presence in their neighbourhood with politeness and limited interactions. Now you get calls in the night, as my father and aunt did, asking if you stock beef in your fridge and should they come and check. In Mumbai.

At our last family wedding, in Uttar Pradesh, a Hindu–Muslim “love jihad” that was kept under the radar, as much as you can keep an Indian wedding quiet from outsiders, relatives huddled together, discussing politics and the fate of our children in this changing country.

Grief and Fear

These days, I vacillate between rage and grief, cynicism and fear. Mostly fear. I feel this way despite my status as a privileged Muslim. I am not even a Kashmiri Muslim. I play it safe on social media. Play it safe in WhatsApp groups. Play it safe in my writing. Play it safe when confronted with road rage. Play it safe in government offices. Play it safe at airline counters. Play it safe at my children’s school. Play it safe in shops. Play it safe in cinema houses.

When my father was desperately sick with a terminal illness that had completely weakened his limbs, I took him for what was to be our last movie together in a cinema house. He insisted on standing up for the national anthem before the film. I suggested that he sit instead. “They will understand,” I whispered. He, who saw the dawn of independence and reported on wars at India’s borders, refused and continued to stand with the support of his walker as best as he could. I then looked around and wondered, would they understand? What if they had known we were Muslim, would they have then lynched my sick father on suspicion of being a “bad Indian?”

The “Not In My Name” protests nationwide cannot change the fate of those who have already paid the violent price for being Muslim. They might not dry the tears of Junaid’s mother. By themselves, the protest morchas, or marches, and dharnasor sit-ins, without further serious sociopolitical thought and action, cannot soothe the anxieties of the burkha-clad mother who marched to Chaitya Bhoomi and said she feared the worst every time her young son left the house these days.

At best, they can open a window of optimism that, when they come for us, threaten our livelihoods and children, curse our history and our faith, and stay silent in the face of gross violence, someone somewhere in this country will be distressed enough to speak up, to show up, to act, to stand by our side.

Seventy years after India’s independence, I’ll settle for that.

EPW.Vol. 52, Issue No. 28, 15 Jul, 2017
Sameera Khan ([email protected]) is a Mumbai-based journalist, writer and researcher. She teaches journalism at the School for Media & Cultural Studies at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences and is a co-author of the book, Why Loiter? Women & Risk on Mumbai Streets.
Even privileged Muslims in India’s most cosmopolitan city are gripped by fear.


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Supreme Court orders CBI probe into 98 Manipur encounter killings

In July last year, the court ordered a probe suspecting use of ‘excessive or retaliatory force’ by armed forces or the police.

Supreme Court of India (Photo: File)

 Supreme Court of India (Photo: File)

New Delhi: In a landmark judgment protecting human rights, the Supreme Court on Friday ordered a CBI probe into 98 fake encounter killings in Manipur during the last decade and called the NHRC a “toothless tiger” for its failure to check the alleged violations.

The court dismissed attempts by the Army and the state government to seek internal probes into the incidents that took place between 2000 and 2012. The state was declared a “disturbed area” under the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) during this period.

A Bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and Uday Lalit passed the order on a petition filed by Extra-judicial Execution Victim Families Association (Eevfam), seeking a probe into 1,528 alleged fake encounter deaths.

The Bench asked CBI director to nominate a group of five officers to go through the records of the cases, lodge necessary FIRs and complete investigations by December 31.

“Undoubtedly, the protection and preservation of human rights is one of the most important aspects of the rule of law,” it said.

On the contention that court should not order a probe when the families of the deceased had not complained and come to the court, the Bench said “access to justice is certainly a human right and it has been given a special place in our constitutional scheme where free legal aid and advice is provided to people”.

The apex court dismissed pleas for not reopening old cases and said, “If a crime has been committed, which involves the death of a person, who is possibly innocent, it cannot be over-looked only because of a lapse of time.”

Pulling up the state government for inaction, the court directed it to pay compensation in those cases where the NHRC had ordered relief and registration of FIRs. Cases related to 20 deaths were reported to the NHRC.

The bench also reminded all state governments to set up human rights commissions at the earliest.

“We do feel it imperative to bring it to the notice of all state governments that it would be but a small step in the protection of life and liberty of every person in our country if a state human rights commission is constituted at the earliest,” the bench said.

In July last year, the apex court had directed a thorough probe into the alleged fake encounter killings in Manipur saying the use of “excessive or retaliatory force” by the armed forces or police was not permissible in “disturbed areas”.

The Army had told the court in April that the judicial probes conducted into the alleged extra-judicial killings were “biased” due to local factors.

On the court’s direction, the Centre probed 282 cases of deaths and found that 70 matters were related to the Army and Assam Rifles, while the rest were linked to police.

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These UP Villages Were ‘Adopted’ By BJP Leaders—Only To Be Neglected And Abandoned

‘If the MP appears, we’ll beat him up. And then we’ll ask, “Who the hell are you?”’


The Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojna was launched by Narendra Modi amidst much fanfare a few months into his tenure as the Prime Minister. A “significant” date was selected – October 11 – famed social reformer Jayaprakash Narayan‘s birth anniversary. Under this plan, Members of Parliament from across political parties choose a village from their respective constituencies and ensure it becomes a “model village”, by taking on the responsibility of developing its physical and institutional infrastructure. This process is romantically also termed as “village adoption” or sansad god liye gaon.

There was nothing here 30 years ago. And there’s nothing here now.Ram Devi, Pipra Maaf

In late June of 2017, Khabar Lahariya visited three such villages across three districts of Bundelkhand—Chitrakoot, Mahoba, Banda—to report on the on-ground status of development in them. Now, Bundelkhand is among the more “backward” regions of UP, with large swathes of it still deprived of basic facilities such as toilets, electricity, clean drinking water. And in the villages of Katra Kalinjar in Banda, Hanna Vinaika in Chitrakoot, Pipra Maaf in Mahoba—the first two adopted by Bhairon Prasad Mishra and the last by Pushpendra Singh Chandel, both BJP leaders—the story is as dismal as any other “unadopted” place in the area.


Or even worse, according to Rajendra Kumar, resident of Hanna Vinaika village in Chitrakoot district. His anger is palpable as he says, “I am shocked to see so many other villages in Chitrakoot that were so backward and have now been developed, like Cheebo and Khandeha in the Rajapur and Mau areas. But our village is stuck in a time warp, as if we were still living in the Rajwada era.”

At this primary shiksha centre, kids only come for the free food and bags. Actual studies are next to zeroShujaat Husaain, Katra Kalinjar

By which means the severe lack of basic amenities, like water, electricity, access to primary healthcare, education, and functional toilets— the last of which impact young girls and women the most. As Radha, a resident of Katra Kalinjar village in Banda tells us, standing next to a gaping hole in her courtyard, a sorry embodiment of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, “The pradhan told us to have the toilets built and that the money would be transferred into our accounts directly. So we got the work started, but the money never came.” Her daughters are little, she says, but what about when they grow up, she worries. Shujaat Husaain laments on the state of the children’s education, “At this primary shiksha centre, kids only come for the free food and bags. Actual studies are next to zero.”


Bhairon Prasad Mishra, the BJP MP who has adopted both these villages, met us after weeks of us hounding his offices and relentless phone calls. In our interview, his countenance alternated between too-busy-to-engage to annoyed, but there were no concrete answers. “The adarsh grams are the ones to be given housing first and foremost, it is a top priority with the government,” he said at first. This was in response to an accident in Hanna Vinaika, where houses fell down and lives were lost—there are several who are homeless. But Mishra has no firm dates in mind. At least none that are in this year. “Everything that is pending will be completed by March 2018.” For a clearer picture on reports, Mishra said that he didn’t have the paperwork on him at the moment, but that he would inform us later. Needless to say, that call never came.


It’s more than we can say for Mahoba’s sansad Pushpendra Singh Chandel, also from the BJP, who never responded to any of our calls or queries or requests and was always travelling. The last time we checked, he was out of the country. Chandel spoke for Pipra Maaf village three years ago and according to the residents, has remained an unseen presence.

Here too, the problems are the same and added to it is the complete lack of access to proper roads. Everybody here tells us how in the monsoons, there is no possible way to get back home if they’ve stepped out. Pipra Maaf also looks like a ghost town because several locals have migrated, leaving their homes behind to go settle in Mahoba sheher and elsewhere. Sharman Prajapati tells us why that’s not an option for him, and so many like him, “Only those who have some money can go. After all, who can afford to pay the rent in Mahoba city?” Ram Devi, who has lived in the village all her life, tells us she’s never seen any of the vikas that all governments in UP swear by during election time. She’s observes, almost amused, “There was nothing here 30 years ago. And there’s nothing here now.”


It’s a pity that policies almost never find fruition on the ground. But it’s such a big irony that villages specifically “adopted” by the movers and shakers of the government, are in worse shape than ever today.

Kumar’s rage sums up a common sentiment in all three villages: “If the sansad ever appears in our village, we are going to beat him up. And then we’ll ask him, ‘Who the hell are you?'”

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